January 2005

Miami, FL to Nassau, Bahamas

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01-02 January 2005
Near the Miami Yacht Club (N25° 47.07 W080° 10.06)

Had a nice New Year celebration on board.  Miami put on a great fireworks display.  We sat in the cockpit and watched it.  We then played music (very loudly) for about an hour or so. We're spending today recovering.

We have dinghied in to the Canal in Miami Beach (about 1.4 miles East of here) several times now.  There's an anchorage right outside that canal with quite a few boats. We saw where Wandering Albatross had moved to on 31 December.  Since we have some final provisioning to do we are thinking about moving from the Miami Yacht Club anchorage, to the Miami Beach anchorage. The water is a bit shallow (8-ft) but if Wandering Albatross is there, we can get in there. And the dinghy ride is quickly getting old. When there's even a little chop we get soaking wet either going or coming. Moving will make that whole dinghy thing better.

04 January 2005
Miami Beach (N025° 47.095, W080° 08.803)

Yesterday, we made the move to the anchorage near Miami Beach.

It was taking 20 minutes each way to dinghy over here from the Miami Yacht Club anchorage. Not to mention the fuel it was burning up.

We've had a couple of nice evenings with Chris and Mary Liz (“Wondering Albatross”). They wanted to get some pictures of their boat under sail, so we went with them for a little sail, just up and down the area near the anchorage. We dropped ML off in the dinghy and “buzzed” her about 5 times.

This morning we found our dinghy had been punctured by the wind vane.  It seems the wind died and the dinghy had floated up close Galena.  It had gotten under the steering vane and the exposed knuckle-joint, with it's sharp corners, had cut a 1” slit in the bow.  We stitched it and patched it.  And we found that the patch kit that came with the dinghy had about 10 patches, but only enough glue for one.

As I said, the wind has died down a lot.  In fact, the batteries are very low.  Last night they even dropped to 12 volts.  That was a bit strange.  So I'll keep and eye on them.  Add to that the fact that I had just added water to them makes me think maybe I did something wrong.  But hey, distilled water added to the bottom of the split ring is just not that hard to do wrong, is it?

06 January 2005

Last night we had Chris and Mary Liz over for dinner. It was the first time we had ever had anyone over for an actual dinner.  The layout of this cabin really doesn't cater to that kind of entertaining.

Jane did a fantastic job of hosting, as she always does.

The Batteries: If it had not been for the 15-knot winds last night we would have been eating in the dark.  The house batteries (320 Amp-Hours worth) went down to 9 volts in about 2 hrs of just a couple of cabin lights.  That's just not right.  This morning we were going to sail to Angelfish Creek with Chris, but instead, I'm troubleshooting the batteries.  One of them is only 4 months old.  It's from West Marine.

A book, a beer and a nice sunset.  Life is good.

The batteries each read 12.44 volts.  I connected them individually to the house circuit and turned on enough lights to get to 5-amps of load.  I watched the voltage drop 1/10th of a volt per minute.  Both batteries were the same.  That's just not right.  So we're going back to the Bayside Marina in Miami, and do a taxi ride to the nearest West Marine.

06 January 2005 (6 PM)
Bayside Marina in Miami, again

So we moved from the anchorage near Miami Beach to the Bayside Marina in Miami.

We got here at 1300 hrs.  We got the batteries out right away and took a cab to West Marine ($18 each way).  When we got there with the batteries, the did a load test and, yes the batteries were bad.  And the one was under full warranty. So for about $200 we got two new 4D batteries.

Jane's washing cloths.  I'm getting ready to take a shower.  Tomorrow morning we'll head down Biscayne Bay to meet up with Chris and Mary Liz. Or at least to see what this Angelfish Creek is all about.

07 January 2005
Anchored at Sands Key, FL (N25° 30.6 W080° 11.4)  Eng: 511 hrs.

This was the very best day of sailing we have ever had!

Wind ESE 10 kts, we were heading 190 M down Biscayne Bay.  Maybe a 1' chop on the water if that.  Galena was making 5-6 kts with everything up and 12 degrees of heel. The sun was shining and the temperature was a comfortable 77 degrees. Smooth and steady sailing at it's best.

Sailing to Sands Key

We had some trouble setting the CQR anchor, so I used the small Danforth that is usually my stern anchor.  It grabbed immediately.  But the rode is kind of small (7/16” I think).  Especially if used as a primary anchor rode. I should change it to a larger line.

08 January 2005

Last night we saw some very bright spots of luminescence in the water.  It was very cool.

The light anchor rode bothered me all night.  This morning I switched it for some 9/16” stuff.  I feel much better now.

We launched the dinghy and went toward shore to see what we could see.  There's a small pond inside this key (Sands Key) and supposedly you can drive you dinghy into it.  We got into water that was about 18” deep and Jane was having a good time watching the fish and coral when the engine hit bottom.  That's when I noticed that for the very first time ever, we had forgotten to load the oars into the dinghy.  So we sat quietly and let the wind drift us back toward water deep enough for the motor.  Then we went back to Galena for the oars.

We motored back to the shore and found the entrance to the pond.  Jane rowed us in.  it was a deep entrance, but then only about 1 foot deep just inside.  Lots of fish in there.  Jane got off and walked around the shore.  But there was just a couple of paths and not much to see.

Then a Boston Whaler kind of boat came in a full speed and did a U-turn and left.  That stirred up so much silt that we could no longer see anything. So we left.

We got a call on the phone from Mary Liz.  Wandering Albatross was a Boca Chita.  Just a mile North of us.  So we dinghied over for a visit.  They had gone there yesterday (Friday) and were the third boat in the harbor.  By the time we got there (about 1330 hrs) the place was packed. Everyone was rafted up 2-deep (all that is allowed there) and other boats were circling around waiting for someone to leave.  Picnics were going on shore and music was playing.  Chris said that the place would be one big party until Sunday night when everyone would go home.  Later in the afternoon, he moved his boat over to Sands Key near us.

09 January 2005

Chris and ML are going to move further South this afternoon in preparation for a possible departure on Thursday.  There might be a small window in the weather.  The plan is:

1.     Move to Angelfish creek and check depths on both ends

2.     Move to Jewfish Creek (actually a marina there) where they can charge batteries and we can do final provisioning.

3.     Tuesday, Wednesday, Back to Angelfish to stage

4.     Wednesday night, about midnight, move out to Bimini.

5.     If we make Bimini in the morning, we continue onto the banks. With an overnight anchorage on the banks.

09 January 2005 (PM)
Angelfish Creek, West end, behind the first little island on the North side. (N25° 20.15, W080° 16.33)

We had another great sail South to Angelfish Creek.  We didn't turn on the depth sounder because it was dead low tide and I didn't want to see the numbers.  Jane turned it on twice and both times it was below 9 feet.  But Wandering Albatross is right in front of us and if they can sail through a spot, so can we.

The night is very, very dark and the current is very, very strong.  It's running about 1.5 kts. The CQR anchor at first just bounced over rocks, then after dragging about 10 feet caught and jerked us to a stop.  It was a very dramatic “set” but worried me because when the tide changes, we may drag away from that rock it caught on. We'll see.

Dinner with Chris and ML tonight.  They are just 100 feet away, but the current is so swift that I'm putting the motor back on the dink (we had taken it off while towing the dinghy) and loading the dinghy anchor and all the safety equipment.  I had read a story of a couple who had done what we were about to do: visit the boat next door.  But when they went to go home, they found they could not row against the tidal current.  They were heading out of the creek and out to sea at about 2 kts with no way to stop or call for help.  Fortunately their host saw them in distress and came after them.  Well, Chris has no motor for his dinghy so I can't expect him to come to my rescue.  We'll just be very careful.

10 January 2005
Anchorage Marina and Resort in Jewfish Creek. (N25-11.008, W080-23.285)
Trip 64 nm(I don't recall from where, but it's been a while since I reset it) / 1215 nm total

Chris wants to recon the East end of the creek; the ocean inlet side.  There's supposed to be a 5-foot rock ledge, which, with a 1-foot tide, we should be able to clear.  And there will be a high tide at 10 AM today and at 12 Midnight on Wednesday night.  But his boat is electric and he's low on juice.  So we volunteered to take him and ML on Galena and do the recon.

This morning we had our first encounter with the infamous ‘no-seeums' and they were really hungry.

Angelfish Creek will do as long we transit at high water.  If the tide tables are right, there's 5.5 feet on the East end at Mean Low Water.  Shallowest part is just at the (very narrow) Easternmost markers. At about 10 AM we swung by Wandering Albatross and picked up Chris and Mary Liz. We headed East to the ocean. I called to an inbound catamaran and asked what the depth was. He said about 6 feet.  So I motored out without too much concern. Well, motoring over rock with only 1 foot under the keel is not the most relaxing way to spend a morning, but we did go out to the reefs and back in again with trouble.

When we got here at the marina, the desk clerk was a very nice lady named Nancy Harcourt.  After a little friendly bantering, I asked where the nearest grocery store was.  She said about 2 or 3 miles down the road.  I said we needed a taxi.  She handed me her car keys.  Isn't that great!  This lady was a gem.  So Chris, ML, Jane, and I drove to the local Winn Dixie and each loaded up with $250 worth of last minute food.

We all went out for a light dinner at the local Latin restaurant.  Then a quiet evening of putting things away.

11 January 2005
Anchored behind Pumpkin Key (N25° 19.58, W080° 17.94)
Trip 14nm/1229 nm   Eng 514 hrs.

Fuel now is: 32-port, 32-stbd and 15 on deck in jerry cans. Plus 5 gallons of gas for the dinghy on deck with 3 gallons in the day-tank.

We topped off the water tanks, washed down the decks, deflated and stored the dinghy, secured the life raft on deck, placed the safety lines.

This is it. Probably tomorrow night we'll head across to the Bahamas. The current weather shows the coming cold front stalling over central Florida. That would be bad. The winds may not clock around completely. So it will be SE, then S, then back to NE and E by Saturday night. We'll see what happens.

Tomorrow I do a few final things. I need to put the storm sail on its track on the mast. I need to check a few things. I need to watch the weather. I need to make sure all the GPS's have the routes in them. Now we do the final waiting. There's a few other boats hanging in the lee of this key with us. I wonder when they will make their run.

12 January 2005
Still anchored in the lee of Pumpkin Key, FL.

Two of the other boats that were here have left. A lady from one of the boats had swum over and asked about the depth of water in Angelfish Creek. They were heading down to Key West, FL.

The great weather window that we were anticipating has evaporated. Now it's SW 15-20 kts with 4'-6' seas. I'm not sure this is still a 'window.' But with our position at Angelfish Creek, we can take a bit of East in our wind for a crossing. We need the wind to be from about 145 degrees to make Bimini. Or, if we miss Bimini, we can make North Rock and sort of tack around it with a wind from 140 degrees. If we don't go now, there will be at least a week of NE winds to wait through. again.

I know that's not the right way to look at it. I certainly don't want to go just because we're tired of waiting.

Tonight should be the night. Sometime after dark and before 0300. as soon as the wind shifts.

Note: Customs decal # 5511108 (Red and white "5" for 2005 on the face)

13 January 2005
Still at Pumpkin Key.

A very disappointing day!

The weather window that we were waiting for has collapsed. We can't go today.

Wandering Albatross rafted up an we watched a movie and listed to music and drank wine till 0230. We were very bummed.

I can't describe the let down. We did the frantic last minute things. We went down pre-deployment checklists. We configured Galena for passage making. Then at 1630 hrs, the weather update came in. The winds, which were to have diminished from the current 25-20 kts were to have diminished to 10-15 from SE to S, now are projected swing right around to NE without the lessening. So the window is closed.


Chris and Mary Liz

After the forecast, I thought about it a while and decided we could not go. Well, we could go, the boat will do it. But it would be a most uncomfortable crossing.

Then I called Wandering Albatross and talked with Chris. I could tell immediately by the sound of his voice that he had come to the same conclusion.

14 January 2005
Pumpkin Key

We're spending the day here at Pumpkin Key. Since the wind is now from the South, Chris broke off and we both moved to the North (now the lee side) of the island. The water was very choppy out in the open.

We talked about going back to Miami Beach, but decided that going South to Key Largo would be more fun. We had already spent a couple weeks at Miami and while it was a convenient anchorage, we'd like to explore a little.

Just before dark today, I went up on deck to try fishing. There was no wind and Biscayne Bay was calm. Then, in a mater of about a minute, the wind went from calm to about 20 kts. And it was about 10 degrees cooler. Then, in about 15 minutes it had clocked around from S to E to NE and the rain started in earnest. So it was up with the anchor (for the second time today) and we moved to the SE side of the island.

We'll probably head South to a cove just south of Jewfish Creek sometime tomorrow. That should give us some protection from the forecast NE winds.

15 January 2005
Pumpkin Key

This was a gray and wet day. We decided to stay put. No sense sailing around in bad weather when the forecast for tomorrow is much better.

But tomorrow night the NE winds start. They are projecting winds from NE at 20-25 kts for the whole week. So we have to move to that cove south of Stillrecht Pt tomorrow morning.

The new batteries have stayed above 12.6 volts even when off the wind generator for some time. That's good. The wind has been blowing at about 10 kts all day.

Wandering Albatross did a drive-by today. They were swapping their anchors and, since it was up, they swung by to say 'hi.' With that electric motor, they can sneak right up on you.

Chris said he was also going South in the morning. I told him where we were going and he said he was going to the same little cove. He agrees that it should give us the protection we need provided we can get in close enough behind that point of land.

16 January 2005
Anchored just south of Stillrecht Pt, Key Largo, FL. (N25° 09.3, W080° 23.6)
Trip 34.6 nm / 1261 nm, Eng 522

About 1030 hrs I was getting ready to move Galena to the anchorage below stillrecht pt.  The wind had picked up and, once again, we were not quite in the lee of the island.  Suddenly Galena swung about 150 degrees counter-clockwise.  Jane asked ‘are we dragging?'  I looked and sure enough we had moved downwind about 200 feet.  We started the engine and Jane powered into the wind while I pulled up the anchor.  The chain came up with much resistance.  When the anchor broke the surface I saw it was just a huge pile of grass.  I guess when I felt it ‘set' and thought “that doesn't feel quite right,” that what I was feeling was the anchor catching on a clump of vegetation.  When that let go, there was too much stuff on the point for it to reset.  So off we went.  A look at the GPS track showed we drug 285 feet in about 3 minutes.  It's a good thing we were awake when that happened.

We motored all the way to this location. The wind was forecast to be NE 20-25 kts. But it was NW 25-30.  This little piece of land (running West out of Key Largo) didn't offer much protection. So after an hour or so, we decided to go back to the marina that's just a couple miles north of here (Anchorage Marina).  We called and got a reservation.  And we told Chris we were heading North.  He had just passed the marina and also decided to turn around and join us.  Just before we left, while calling Wandering Albatross on the radio, we heard from m/v “Sailor”; (Dennis and Betty).  They were friends of Chris and Mary Liz from St Augustine, FL and would love to hook up with them again.  They were just north of Pumpkin Key and heading South.

We weighed anchor and moved out.  We suddenly found out that this little piece of land was indeed giving us a lot of shelter.  Once we had moved about 100 yards away, we felt the full brunt of the wind and waves.  We could only motor at 3 kts into the wind.

Once again we saw 4.9 feet on the depth sounder but got through to the deeper Jewfish Creek channel area.  We tied up behind Wandering Albatross  Chuck the dockmaster said, “These are not 32 foot boats, they're more like 40.” So we had to pay for that much space.

Leo, a nice guy on the dock, brought us a couple of beers.  30  minutes later w/v Sailor showed up.  They stopped to say ‘Hi' to Mary Liz and Chris and then went about ¼ mile south to anchor… and promptly ran aground just outside the channel.  They tried a couple more places and then came back to join us at the marina. That night we all got drunk and naked in the hot tub.

Nancy at the front desk was happy to see me again and once again gave me her car keys.

17 January 2005
Anchorage Key Marina

This was just a quiet day of recovery after the partying of the previous evening.  We stayed one more day at the marina.

We were going to try to anchor a couple of miles south of the marina in Tarpon Bay. The map showed 8' of water just off the channel. M/v Sailor went first and said (as power boaters usually say), "Plenty of water. I'm anchored in 8' just like the map says."

I came down the channel and turned toward him. I went from 7' to 6' to 5' and quickly turned Galena back toward the channel. During the turn I saw 4.9' (remember, I need 5' to float).

Dennis said "Go just a little further down the channel before you turn in."

I did. The same thing happened.

He said, "Go all the way to the next marker, then turn."

I did. Before I had moved one boat length off the channel I was hard aground. First I felt the keel touch bottom and Galena slowed. Then the bow lifted about three feet into the air (Ok, maybe it was only a few inches, but it felt like 'feet'). Then the stern lifted and I knew were were really stuck. As soon as I felt that first contact (and the depth alarm was complaining, too) I pushed the helm hard over and Galena started to swing to port. We came to a stop roughly parallel to the channel and about a boat length away from deeper water.

We tried the usual tricks: Power forward and then astern. Tried to use the rudder to twist us further to port. The bow would swing about 2 or 3 degrees and then stop. I moved my big but to the tip of the bowsprit and had Jane try to maneuver us, to no avail. During all of this Dennis and Bettye were getting into their dinghy and heading our way.

Bettye was kind enough to point out that the starboard side of the channel (where were were aground) was technically in the National Everglades Park. And the being aground here can result in a huge fine. Thanks for that, Bettye. We handed her our stern anchor and she and Dennis dinghied it out a couple of hundred feet off the port bow; toward the channel. We started to winch it in and the bow started to swing. Then the anchor let loose and we had to start again. When we pulled up the Danforth it was filled with grass. Bettye said, "Destroying sea grass... That's another big fine." Thanks, again, Bettye. I kept looking up for a Ranger helicopter or go-fast boat, but none showed up.

On the second attempt at kedging off we got the bow to swing around. That was all it took and we were free again. The whole thing took about 40 minutes. During that time I probably racked up what would have been about $4,000 in fines from the park police if any had come along. But fortunately, none did. Also during that time Wandering Albatross, who was following us, continued up the channel a few hundred yards and then started back. They watched the whole sorry affair from afar. Dennis said he would lead us in to the anchorage. I said, "No, thanks. We'll go to where I know there's some deeper water."

I turned around and went back to the Stillrecht Pt anchorage.  This time it was a nice quiet anchorage since the winds were truly from the North.  Wandering Albatross followed.  But they burned up 25% of their battery power fighting their way back here.

Chris tried flying a new sail plan that worked well.  He was hard on the wind, double reef in the main, full staysail.  Then he added a storm jib and said the change was nothing short of amazing.  The boat picked up about 2 kts of speed and the weather helm was completely eliminated.  I'll have to try that.

Chris and I had talked this morning about trying an ‘unconventional' crossing window.  The winds were supposed to moderate and come from the NW.  But only 10 kts.  The seas would be down to 3-5 feet in the Stream.  This should be quite doable. Sunday a strong cold front is coming through.  The winds will clock through South to West and then to NW in about an hour.  We want to be on the Banks by the time that happens.

19 January 2005
Stillrecht Pt, Key Largo, FL. (N25° 09.3, W080° 23.6)

Of course the NE wind changed to NW after we got here. We had a rolly night. I inflated the dinghy and we all went to shore and walked a little. We found a West Marine and a Walgreen's.  When we got back, m/v Sailor had joined us.  We also got a phone call from Bob on s/v Acacia.  He would like to join us on a crossing this week if we go. We had met them while anchored out at the Miami Beach anchorage.

We had a couple of beers with Dennis and betty and then took Chris and Mary Liz home.  Then we went home.  The wind had died to absolutely nothing.

But by 2200 hrs, it was howling out of the NW and we were rocking and rolling.

Tomorrow we'll head back to Pumpkin Key and wait for weather (again).

20 January 2005
Pumpkin Key, Anchored at N25-19.4 W080-17.7
Trip 16nm/1276 nm  Eng 527 hrs

We left the anchorage at 1030 hrs and motored back to Pumpkin Key.  We've made that trip a few times now.

We got there ahead of Wandering Albatross and m/v Sailor (who stopped for fuel).  When they arrived, they rafted up on either side of Galena.

m/v Sailor, Galena, and Wandering Albatross rafted up at Pumpkin Key.

At 1800 hrs the wind, which had died down to absolutely nothing, suddenly came up to 10 kts from the South.  Then swung to SW.  With that wind, we broke up the raft and they both went to the South side of the island.  Since our hook was down and set (it was holding 60,000 pounds of boat during the raft-up) we stayed where we were on the North side.

Tomorrow is the day.  Unless something really unexpected happens with the weather, we're going to the Bahamas tomorrow.

Finally.

21 January 2005
Anchored at Gun Cay, BAHAMAS!!!!!  (N25° 34.7 W079° 17.7)
Trip 61 nm / 1337 nm Eng 527 hrs

Well, after three months, one of which was in the Miami FL area waiting for weather, we are finally here.  We are actually in the Bahamas.  Now, having said that, we have decided to head to Chub Cay to do the Customs check-in, so we're officially under quarantine, we had a ‘Q' flag flying, and we are not allowed off the boat, and no one is allowed on the boat, but we're just thrilled to be here.  Now we can slow down.

I didn't sleep much last night.  We got up at 0500 and had the anchor up by 0530.   Wandering Albatross called on the radio and said they would be ready to head out by 0530, too.  Since we had reconned the route through Angelfish Creek, and I had that track in my GPS, I would lead down the creek and they would follow me.  The moon had set a couple hours before and it was very, very dark.  Jane was on the bow with a flashlight and illuminated the channel markers for us.  I followed the track to within 10 feet.  Since the East end of the channel, where it opens up to the ocean is only about 70 feet wide that kind of precision is important.

We make it through to the ocean without incident.  It was a bit scary but we made it.

The first hour or so in the ocean was great: perfect sailing weather: 6.5 kts of boat speed with everything up. Then we turned on our heading to Cat Cay (113 degrees mag) and the wind was directly astern.  That means we had to pole out the genny and try to keep the main on the other side of the boat.

Galena heading East into the sunrise as we leave the US and run toward the Gulf Stream. Taken from Wandering Albatross.

Route across the Gulf Stream to Cat Cay (61 nm)

But we were making good time and the ride was not too bad.  Then the wind subsided and the seas built.  We had a very rolly ride for the last couple of hours.

I had read and re-read the approach instructions for Cat Cay a dozen times, but I had Jane read them to me again as we got within a mile or so of the shore.

We dropped the sails (except for the staysail, which I left up to stabilize the boat a little) and motored in.  Jane was on the bow watching the bottom for coral while I was reading the depth sounder and watching the map scroll by on the GPS. As we approached, the depth sounder came to life.

As we left Angelfish Creek, the depth sounder went from 350 feet to 10.8 feet.  Then bounced around between 4.2 and 15 feet.  I thought that it was broken. I was envisioning having to throw the lead line when we got to the Bahamas.  But it turned out that it had just gone beyond its depth sounding capabilities and was doing the best it could.  When we got to less than 350 feet on the approach, it worked fine again.

As we approached Cat Cay, I called out the depth as 30 feet and Jane couldn't believe it.  She could see the bottom as clear as day.  We made the turn to the South around the lighthouse and apparently did it right since we didn't hit anything, and then headed north into the anchorage.  We saw Wandering Albatross and rafted up for a couple of minutes to say ‘hi.'  (Question: can one quarantined boat commune with another?) The we broke off and anchored nearby.

Wandering Albatross had taken a more intelligent route.  During the crossing, the wind was right on the stern.  So they headed a little south to make it easy to keep the sails full.  That gave them a better ride and better speed.  The result was that they hit the Bahamas an hour south of Cat Cay.  But with the Gulf Stream's help, they just turned north and made it up to Cat Cay in no time.  They actually got there over an hour before us.

Tomorrow we'll cross the Grand Bahamas Bank.

22 January 2005
Trip 45 nm/ 1385 nm Eng 527 hrs
Anchored on the Grand Bahamas Bank. (N25° 29.7 W078° 36.1)

The wind is starting to blow pretty good.  15 kts from the SW with seas up to about 4 feet.  Galena is bucking like a mule.  The bow is leaping out of the water and plunging back to bury itself in the next wave.  And we're anchored, folks! We're not even moving!

We have 130 feet of chain out and a 35 lb CQR anchor. That's over 160 pounds of steel on the sea bed.  And I'm not really comfortable that it will hold us.  Wandering Albatross is about 200 yards away.  It's going to be a rough night.

We left Cat Cay about 0830 hrs and had a great day of sailing.  I've said that before but this was just the best we've ever had.  The water is an almost indescribable turquoise.  And the bottom rolling by is either white sand or grass.  The wind was about 10 kts, and there were no waves.  But we had to run a course of 101 degrees and the best we could manage was about 90 degrees.  So we had to do the very inefficient “saw-tooth” tack.  That's a long run in almost the right direction, then a turn through the wind so we're heading sort of backward and back toward the planned route followed again by a long run in almost the right direction.  But then the wind shifted and we had a great sail until just about sundown.

We're still 40 nm from Chub Cay, so we'll have to get an early start and have a full, good day of sailing to make it.

I don't want another night on the banks.  It's just too rough here.

Cat Cay to Chub Cay (85 nm)

23 January 2005
In the Chub Cay Marina and Resort
Trip: 42 nm / 1425 nm Eng 530 hrs

 


Bill wondering where we are


Jane enjoying the sunshine...at last. And, yes, the water really is that blue.

We're in the marina on Chub Cay.  We're tied up next to Wandering Albatross.

Last night was very, very rough.  Either Jane or I was up every hour and a half checking the GPS to see that we hadn't moved; that we were still 130 feet from the anchor. And to see that WANDERING ALBATROSS was still a couple hundred yards away.  We both had decided that if the motion changed from up-and-down to side-to-side, that that would be the alarm to send us to the helm since that would probably mean we had broken loose and were dragging the anchor.

About 0530 hrs, I noticed a change in the motion of the boat.  But it was just the wind shifting and the waves had not caught up, yet.  The GPS showed us moving in a nice arc around the anchor.  But WANDERING ALBATROSS was gone; nothing but their stern light disappearing into the East. We would later find out that they had started to drag. Since it was almost light out, they decided to just head out rather than attempt to re-anchor.

By 0640 hrs we had the anchor up and were heading out, ourselves.

At first it was just a fairly nice down-wind run. But the ride was rolly and just on the edge of broaching whenever a big wave rolled up from behind.  I had the main up and the small jib poled out to windward.  We were making about 6.5 kts which is great for Galena.

Then, about 0900 hrs we had a sudden increase in the wind.  Then an accidental gibe that spun us around, broke off the man overboard pole and nearly knocked us on our beam-ends.

We took about 15 minutes to sort that out.  We put a double reef in the main and dropped the jib. But we put up the staysail to balance the boat.  That worked well, but our speed was down to 4.5 kts and our arrival time at Chub Cay was close to dark.  That wouldn't do. So, we shook out one of the reefs, and put up the jib.  Our speed was back to 6 kts and I was happy.  Then we passed the Northwest Channel Light.  The water there goes from 14 feet to over 2000 feet in about a quarter of a mile.  And the water goes back to that wonderful dark blue of the deep ocean. Unfortunately, the waves and the wind increased to those found in the ocean, too.

The waves grew to about 6 feet and the wind was up to 20 kts.  It soon became clear that we had way too much sail up.  I dropped the jib.  The staysail was up but flailing around behind the main. It wouldn't stay inflated on either tack. I wanted to drop the main and run under only the staysail.  As I went forward to do that, the staysail boom started to swing wildly and suddenly the bail at the end broke off and the thing went crazy.  I dropped the staysail and secured the boom on deck.  Jane fired up the engine and motored us back onto course. We were still 5 miles from Chub Cay.  The seas were still building from astern and we had a hard time preventing a broach.  I was very concerned about the approach to Chub since every narrative talks about the hazards and the water is only 6-feet deep at the entrance to the marina.  Well, thanks to a heavy boat and a lot of luck, we made it without further damage. We entered the channel to the marina and was guided in on the radio by Chris. We headed for the slip right next to his. That put us heading down wind! I put Galena into full reverse about a boat length from the slip and she hardly slowed down. She did, however, do her usual twist to starboard. The marina had pilings for the stern and no finger piers. Sort of like a bow-in Med-Moore. Once we were in and tied off, we had to climb to the end of the bowsprit and jump down to the dock. Getting back on during high tide required a stack of blocks for Jane to reach the bowsprit.

On the way in to the channel leading to the marina, I noticed a sailboat circling.  My first thought was that he was unsure of the approach. I was afraid that he might be waiting for me to lead the way.  But he didn't follow me in.  A few hours later he tied up in the slip next to Wandering Albatross.  His name was Brent, his boat was s/v Cajynn II.  He would become our best friend on this trip and cruise with us for the next three months.

With the weather acting up we may stay here for a day or two.  There's a cold front coming through that is bringing a gale with it.  But this place is not too bad.  There are showers, a bar, a restaurant, and internet access.  And for $1.25 a foot, that's not bad.

27 January 2005
Still at Chub Cay, Berry Islands, BI

Had a nice evening on s/v Perserverance, a Manta42 cat with Richard and Harriet Eisen.  It's a beautiful cat. They are very proud of it.

We called Winkie last night. The pocket mail device has not yet arrived.  I said to send it to Nassau. And Jane said, “Be sure to send it as soon as it arrives.  It can wait for us, but we can't afford to sit around Nassau and wait for it.”  And Nassau is a town not known for it's quiet small town ambiance.  The crime there is like any other big city.  Cruisers are warned to lock everything and, if possible, not to leave their boats unattended.

Checked out of Chub Cay.  The rate was $1.35/ft/dy and they charged me only 10 for electricity.  The rate was supposed to be .35/kw. For water, they asked how much I had used.  I said 10 gal and they charged me the 3.50.  So for the 4 days we paid only $211 after taxes and everything. We have paid as much as $100 for one day. So this was not bad.

Oh, and the phones.  There's three phones in the marina.  The one by the store and the one on the left near the main office both charge $1.00 per minute to the states, but the one on the right near the office charges only $0.51 per minute.  Go figure.

1700 hrs.

We've moved.  We left Chub Cay and moved to Frazer's Hog Cay anchorage. It's the same island just the East end of it.

(N 25-25.8, W077-49.8)

Chub Cay Marina to Frazer's Hog Anchorage (17 nm)

The trip in to this place was a little 'thin' in the water depth dept.  Granted we were at low tide. As we headed north along the beach we saw 5.8 once and a few 6.5's.  There was supposed to be no less than 7.5 feet.

Once again we had problems setting the anchor (the 35# CQR).  So we tried the Danforth.  No Joy.  So back to the CQR.  It sort-of-set.  But we both said “No, not good enough.”  We watched the GPS to see if we were moving while I hemmed and hawed about the idea of diving on the anchor to see if it was actually dug into the seabed.

We felt that this was potentially another Pumpkin Key situation where the anchor just let loose in a gust and we spun away down wind at an alarming rate.

I said, “Well, I guess I should dive down and check it.”  Jane said, “If you think you should, then you should. And it's getting dark so do it now.”

“But,” I said, “1. the water is cold and 2. the air is getting cold with the setting sun, and 3. I don't know what I should be looking for, really or what to do if the thing isn't set.”

She said, “You'll figure it out.”

So I got out my snorkel and flippers and mask and over the side I went.

As I swam along the chain toward the anchor I thought I would die.  It was so cold that I couldn't stop hyperventilating.  Then I saw the anchor, 11 feet below me.  It was just lying on its side. Not dug in at all.  It wouldn't have held us in even a slight wind.  So I dove down and tried to put the point of the plow into the seabed.

Two things: first, I'm way out of practice when it comes to diving.  I barely had enough air to get down there, lift the 35# anchor and drive its point into the sand.

The other thing is that anchors are really heavy even in the water.  I could not drive it into the seabed more than about 3 inches.

So I surfaced and yelled to Jane to fire up the engine and back down on the anchor.  This she did.  Tentatively at first.  The catenary of the chain didn't even lift.  I motioned for her to really pull on the anchor and she did.  It was really cool to see the chain straighten up and then the anchor just moved about a foot as it dug deep into the seabed; all the way down to the hinge on the shank.  That thing was set!

When I got back to the boat, I couldn't stop babbling about it.  I suppose the fact that I was shaking with cold was a contributing factor to the high babble level.

The whole thing was a very satisfying event.  Now I know that that anchor is set, and set well.  I'll sleep well tonight.

From now on, I'll dive on every anchor as long as it's not too deep.

28 January 2005 0900hrs
Trip 17nm/1442nm. Eng. 533 hrs

Yesterday morning the wind went from northwest to northeast. So that great anchorage at Frazer's Hog Cay turned into a rough lee shore.  As Galena had gone completely around the anchor that great ‘set' that the anchor had originally was just waiting for a gust of wind to snatch us away.  And it did.  In that sudden, no-longer-attached way, Galena swung her bow away from the wind and headed for shore.

The Anchor Drag alarm sounded on the GPS and we sprang into action.  We fired up the engine and hauled up the anchor.  We motored out of there.  The other boat which was in that anchorage with us (s/v “Compass Rose”) hauled, too and we both left. We were heading back to the cove just outside of Chub Cay Marina.  On the way, Compass Rose talked with two other boats that were heading to the anchorage we had just left.  They, too, turned around.  We saw Cajynn II coming out of Chub and called him to suggest he return, which he did.  That made five boats heading for the little anchorage; and there were already two boats there.  I thought it was crowded when we came in as number seven.  By the end of the day, there were 19 boats in that little cove.  Now that's crowded.

Again, I dove on our anchor and found it on its side dragging a pile of rocks across the bottom. So again I started it and had Jane back down on it and watched as it snuggled into the sea bed. Brent (“Cajynn II”) came over with some groceries that Jane had asked him to pick up.  He also dove on most of the anchors in the cove and set most of them.  He hung out with us and we all drank heavily till about midnight.

One of the boats that came is was a Westsail32 named “Kabuki” owned by Dave and Deb.  They were very new at all this but were have a great time learning.

29 January 2005
Still anchored at Chub Cay.

Since I spent the whole day yesterday drunk, Jane decided to do the same today.  We went over to Cajynn II for dinner.

I finally changed the oil and filter.  It had been just over 100 hrs since the last one.

30 January 2005
Still anchored at Chub Cay.

Switched water tanks today.  We'd been on the same one for 15 days.  That's 30 gallons for 2 people for 15 days. 1 gal per person per day.  Not bad at all.

The wind is south at 10 kts.  7 boats left today for Nassau.  All day long on the radio we heard them complaining about the ride.  The wind was just about 10 degrees too close to the line and they were all motor sailing and pounding into the waves.

Tomorrow they're calling for NW to North 10-15.  That sounds like a better situation for the southeast course to Nassau.  We'll leave at first light.  Brent (“Cajynn II”) will go with us.  “Kabuki” said they were leaving at 0300 but they also said they might wait for us.

With the wind clocking around to the southwest and west, this is becoming a rough anchorage.  By nightfall tonight, the three of us were the only boats left.  All the others had moved to the lee side of the island.  We thought this would not be too rough.

Here it is, 2000 hrs and we have 5 kts of wind and just a light chop.

I just about have the boat ready to go.  Jane has done her thing with the insides while I have prepped the deck.  She of course helps a lot on getting everything on deck secured, too.

Tomorrow at 0630 we go to Nassau.

31 January 2005 0400 hrs.

OK, so this was not a good idea; staying here at the Chub Cay anchorage.  There are large rollers coming in and we're having a very rough ride.  We may leave a little sooner than 7 a.m. just to get off the hook and away from that lee shore.  We aren't really dragging, but we've pulled the anchor about 5 feet so far and that means it's either dug in very deep or at least overstressed.

I'm up doing an anchor check. Also, I head voices. Kabuki has drug their anchor about 100 feet.  She drifted right between Galena and Cajynn and is now very close to Cajynn II.  Brent is on deck talking with them.

0530hrs.   The GPS suddenly said we had moved 40 feet down-wind, then said we were right where we had been.  Can't be, but it scared us to the point that we fired up the engine and were about to haul anchor and go.  But the wind is in the process of clocking around from east, through northeast and is now almost out of the north.

I've been listening to a few of the boats that moved to the south side of the island complain of the rollers coming in on them.  I had thought they were going to the east side, where they would be safe from wind and waves, but they followed s/v Compass Rose to the area near the beach just at the southeast corner of Frazer's Hog Cay.  They say they're moving now; in the dark. They were going to move to the east side of the island.   We were up there a few days ago and I don't think I'd like to try that channel in the dark.

They are also saying they want to stay there for a few days and not go out in ‘all this wind.'  But it's starting to abate now.  It's down to 10 kts and as long as the seas are not still rough, we should have a great day.

0630hrs. We're leaving.  Kabuki is talking about staying here.  The wind/waves are scaring them a bit.  But Brent is talking them into going with us. Brent “Cajynn) and Dave (“Kabuki”) believe that Galena has to leave first since we seem to be over Kabuki's anchor and they are lying across Cajynn's rode.  So we're preparing to go now.

0653hrs. We are anchor-up and on our way to Nassau.  The wind is now North at 10 kts.  Seas in the Tongue of the Ocean are 2 feet.  It's going to be a great sail.

One thing about leaving Chub Cay:  just 1 mile off shore you're in 7,000 feet of water.  And it's the beautiful dark blue of the clear ocean water.  I never tire of seeing it. The foam from the bow wave as it rolls away from the hull is almost clear on top of the deep blue of the water below it.

The boats that were at Frazer's Hog called and asked for a wind/wave report.  They now say they're coming along.  But they are all following Compass Rose to the anchorage at the west end of New Providence, rather than go to Nassau. We've never been to Nassau and want to 'full experience.' So we'll head in to the main harbor.

The wind is now from the predicted northeast and at the predicted 10 kts.  Seas are building to 3 feet but it's about the best kind of sailing.  Cajynn II motored to catch up with us and we took some pictures of each other.  Kabuki did the same. Kabuki then started just sailing and immediately fell back. I had to hand-steer since I was unwilling to tuck in a reef in the main, which would have balanced the rig and reduced the weather-helm to a point where the Aries wind vain could do the steering.  But then I wouldn't have been able to keep up with Cajynn.  And I'm just too competitive to do that. Kabuki kept catching up (motorsailing) and falling back (sailing). They didn't have their staysail up because their hard dinghy was on the foredeck and blocking the car and track for the boom. I suggested that they just take the staysail sheet back and tie it off to... well... anything. They did and they were then able to keep up without motoring.

Just as we approached Nassau, the wind became lighter and more on the nose.  In hindsight, since it was likely to move more to the northeast, we should have steered north of the rhomb line to take advantage of the probable shift.  But we didn't. so the last 5 miles were at 4 kts rather than the 6 kts we had held most of the trip.


Cajynn II and Galena (from Kabuki)


Kabuki running toward Nassau


Galena Approaching Nassau with the Atlantis Resort in the background

31 January 2005 1500 hrs
Nassau Yacht Haven Marina, Nassau, Bahamas.
Trip: 45 nm / 1486 nm. Eng: 536 hrs

          We came in right behind Cajynn II.  We had some trouble calling Nassau Harbor Control.  We called them on VHF 16.  They said go to 09 but they wouldn't answer us there.  We went back to 16 and heard s/v Sea Nettle call them and again they said go to 09.  On 09 Harbor Control asked four questions of arriving cruising yachts: What is your registration number? Where did you clear customs? What was your last port? And what is your destination (inside the harbor)?

          Sea Nettle was stumped on the registration question, so when she said “wait a minute” I jumped in and, getting Harbor Control's attention, gave him all the data in one fell swoop.  He said “Permission to enter the harbor is granted.” So I was in.  Cajynn never could get through, but Kabuki got clearance right after me. 

          We proceeded to Nassau Yacht Haven Marina. The instructions were turn to starboard after the second bridge and keep the red buoy to port.  We did.  I noticed that there was a nasty current running from the East.  Then we turned east again and had to turn right into a fairway toward our assigned slip. Keeping the current in mind, I swung wide around a steel party cat.  Only to encounter a small power boat coming out mid-fairway.  I had to back down hard, which due to the massive prop-walk we have, swung Galena's bow to the right, which was ok, except that now I was sliding sideways into the bows of that steel party cat.  Full throttle, crabbing in and we missed the cat by about 5 feet.  Another right turn into the slip and we were secure.  When I was turning into the slip, the current was trying to keep me from turning, so there was a lot of full throttle work being done.  The sound of that brought a lot of folks out to fend off and help.  But I slid into the slip without touching a thing.  Very well done, if I do say so myself.  All those slip entries and exits at the home marina paid off nicely today.

          Right behind us, Kabuki did the same thing, except that he hadn't noticed the current.  He didn't swing nearly wide enough, and didn't crab in at all.  He drove it like he was on a lake and was swept right into those steel bows.  There was a lot of yelling and crunching noises.  We ran down there and about 6 of us pushed and pulled while we tried to get him free.  That full keel really reacts to current and when it's right on the beam, it's hard to overcome.  Finally they were clear and quite shaken.  The dockmaster assigned them an easier berth and they were able to get into it ok.  The damage was mostly the teak cap rail and some wiring to the solar panels.

          On talking with some people we had met on Chub Cay, we learned that s/v Perseverance (see 27 Jan) passed on the wrong side of the red buoy noted above.  They hit the reef that was just to the East of that buoy which marked water only 2 feet deep.  They got clear of the reef and entered the marina only to notice that they were taking on water.  They left the marina and ran the boat up on the beach to keep from loosing it completely.  Very sad for them. That boat was huge but it was also all they owned.

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